Avocados – A Superfood For Diabetes

avocadosAs a diabetic, I love AVOCADOS!  So why do I love avocados, and why are they so good for those with diabetes?  Well first, it’s all fat, and it’s all good for you.  It’s yummy like butter, except instead of killing you, it’s saving you.  I know, I know.  Big claims, but why?

First, let me just say that Weight Watchers is STUPID for putting avocados on their avoid list with their new Simple Start plan.  Anyway, here are the basic nutrient wonders of an avocado.  An average medium California avocado has about 320 cal, 17g carbs, 13g fiber, 30g fat, 4g saturated fat, 20g monounsaturated fat, 4g polyunsaturated fat,  and numerous vitamins and minerals, including the ever so important electrolytes potassium and magnesium.  In fact, an avocado usually has 3 times more potassium than a banana does.

Now lets break that down.  320 calories.  That’s pretty high, right?  So what!  With everything you get in this wonder fruit, it’s worth it.  Yes, it’s a fruit, not a vegetable.  It’s sometimes called an “alligator pear”.  17c carbs and 13g fiber.  As T1D’s, you know that’s a really odd ratio, and it seems that you may not even need to take any insulin when you eat one of these things, because we always substract the fiber from the carbs to calculate our insulin needs.  I know I don’t take any when I eat one.  That’s part of why I love them.  30g fat.  That’s high too, right?  So what!  Fat doesn’t make you fat, carbs do, and with no insulin, you can’t store fat anyway.  You get 20g of monounsaturated fat with these little green wonders, which is a roto rooter for your arteries.  That’s a massive dose!  Monounsaturated fat raises HDL cholesterol (the good kind), which collects bad fats from all over the body and takes them to the liver.  When your HDL reaches a certain level, compared to your overall cholesterol number, you’re considered “protected” from heart disease.  We as diabetics must worry about our cholesterol because diabetes can lead to heart disease.  As a diabetic who’s already died of heart disease once (for about 60 seconds, and was then rushed into emergency quad bypass), I can say that my last cholesterol test was near this heart protective range with no medication.  That range is below 3.5:1.  Doctors get worried when you go above 5:1.  Now lets finish up, and talk about those electrolytes.  You ever get a headache, get cranky, have muscle pain, and then realize your blood sugar’s off the roof?  You’re getting those symptoms because of electrolyte imbalance, caused by your high blood sugar.  If you’ve ever been treated for DKA, you already know about this.  Blood sugar goes up, body tries to level it out by evacuating water from kidneys, which reduces electrolyte levels.  The body cannot function without electrolytes.  So avocados help us diabetics keep electrolytes levels up.

So the benefits of avocados for diabetics are:  Low insulin needs, increases good cholesterol, and keeps electrolyte levels up.  Oh, and with that much fiber, it’ll make ya poop the way you’re suppose to.  ;P

So how do you eat an avocado?  Well, I’m to lazy to do anything fancy with an avocado.  I just cut the thing in half with a big sharp knife (Carefully, click here to learn how:  http://youtu.be/eI-IVnwnbyg ), take out the huge seed, and scoop it out with a spoon.  So yummy in my tummy.  The first time I bought an avocado, I had no one to teach me how to know if they were ripe.  Mine was not, and I could not eat it.  A ripe avocado will be a very dark green, almost black.  It’s not ripe if it’s bright green, and it’s over ripe if it’s black or brown.  Ripe will be barely soft if you gently press your thumb into the skin when you pick it up.  If it’s ripe like this when you take it home, you can’t let it sit there for a few days.  You have eat it quickly, or it’ll go bad.  To make them last longer, I buy a whole bag when they’re not yet ripe, then stick them in the fridge until I need one.  Set it out a couple days, and it ripens.  I enjoy avocados on sushi, salads, sandwiches, or wherever I want.  I just let other people prepare it that way for me.

Now I’d like to provide you with some helpful links to more information about what I’ve talked about today.  As someone taking control of your own health, you have the responsibility to do your own research, and not take what I’ve said for granted.  Google things, click these links, have fun with the research, and then go eat an avocado.

Avocados:  http://www.avocado.org/about-california-avocados/

Dietary Fats:  http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-full-story/

Electrolytes:  http://www.dlife.com/diabetes/lifestyle/weather/stoppler_07_19_06

 

The Great Diabetes and Pizza Controversy

PizzaDiabetes and pizza.  Hmmmm?  If you have diabetes, and you love pizza, you’ve probably experienced the blood sugar roller coaster that occurs after you’ve filled your tummy with as much as it can stand without exploding.  (Everybody’s done it!)  Over the last week or so, for some reason, pizza has come up in conversation with many of my diabetes peeps. Then today I read this neat story at www.sixuntilme.com about pizza, and I figure this is the universe telling me to blog about it.

I love pizza, but I don’t eat it, partly because I don’t have the math skills to figure out the bolus required for eating pizza.  Here’s what typically happens to diabetics that don’t yet understand pizza and diabetes.  Let’s say you eat 4 slices of pizza, and you start with a normal blood sugar of about 100 mg/dl.  4 slices is approximately 100g of carbs.  Notice I said approximately.  You never really know how many carbs are in each piece for a bazillion reasons.  (It’s a word.  It’s MY word.)  So you bolus for 100g carbs.  Between 1 and 2 hours later, you crash hard.  Your blood sugar is like, . . . in the 50’s.  So you eat what you’re suppose to, exactly 12 carbs, and you check, and your blood sugar is around 80 mg/dl.  Then 2 hours later it’s 270!  WTH?!

Here’s what probably happened.  The high saturated fat content in the cheese caused temporary insulin resistance, slowing down the initial blood sugar spike, AND hours later it causes your remaining bolus and your basal to be less effective  So you bolused for 100g, and since the fat slowed down the carbs, your blood sugar didn’t rise as quickly as it would otherwise, but your insulin still did it’s job, so you crashed.  Then you corrected at about the same time that the fat is causing insulin resistance, so you’re rising from your correction, AND you’re rising from the insulin resistance.  This can last for hours.

Now if you didn’t know this, don’t feel bad.  I only learned about saturated fat’s effect on my blood sugar last year.  I have my CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) to thank for educating me on this.  Have I mentioned that she’s amazing?  Now that I understand this, I have a lot less “unexplained high blood sugars”.  Below is how I deal with high saturated fat meals.

First, don’t just try this without first consulting your endo or CDE, because saturated fat doesn’t effect every diabetic the same way.  I’m just sharing what I do.  So here goes.  This first bit is VERY IMPORTANT.  When my meal has more than 25g of saturated fat, then I increase my total bolus amount by around 25%, BUT I  DON’T TAKE IT ALL AT ONCE.  I take 40-60% of it with my meal, and then I take the rest of it in a dual-wave bolus set for 4 hours.  That usually works for me, but you have to fine tune it every time depending on how much carbs, and how much saturated fat you eat in a meal.  When you’re meal has less than 25g of saturated fat, it’s less likely to affect you this way, so if you only eat 2 pieces of pizza, you don’t usually have to bother with this, but again, it’s different for everybody.  (I know, to many commas.  I don’t care. It’s my blog! *grin*)

I actually don’t eat pizza anymore because I try to follow the paleo lifestyle most of the time.  However I do eat large amounts of saturated fat every once in a while, so I still have to deal with this.  It’s been so long since I ate pizza, that I honestly can’t even remember the last time I had it?  Some diabetics will say pizza is horrible and you shouldn’t eat it, some will say anything is ok in moderation, and others don’t limit themselves and enjoy what they like.  Whatever you choose, I hope this blog helps you understand pizza’s effect on your blood sugar.

If you found this blog helpful, please share or comment, or both.  Thanks!

Type 1 Diabetic: Insulin vs Glucagon

So I’ve been studying the role of glucagon in metabolism.  I wanted to know the difference between insulin vs glucagon.  I’ve never really known anything about glucagon, except that when I was a juvenile diabetic, I’d have seizures from low blood sugar, and when I saw my parents coming at me with that weird syringe, I knew it was glucagon.  They never understood that I was totally conscious during my seizures.  So anyway, I always thought glucagon was a form of ultra pure glucose or something, until I read Robb Wolf’s book “The Paleo Solution” back in March of this year.  He barely touched on glucagon, but did mention that it was a hormone, so I knew it wasn’t a form of sugar.

Well now I understand a great deal more about glucagon.  Been studying like a madman.  I understand that it’s insulin’s sister hormone, that they both come from Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas.  Glucagon comes from alpha cells, and insulin from beta cells.  That together, they are the core of metabolism.  A perfect feedback system that regulates energy in your body.  Glucagon is the yin, to insulin’s yang.  Glucagon releases fat to be burned, where insulin stores it for energy later.  Glucagon raises low blood sugar by signalling the liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose via glyconeogenesis.  When blood sugar rises to high, insulin is secreted to store that glucose as glycogen in muscle tissue, or as fat.  When there’s insulin, you can’t burn fat.  When there’s glycogen, you can’t store fat.  Insulin is secreted when you eat carbohydrates.  Glycogen is secreted when you eat protein.

Ok, so I have the basic understanding I think?  Now, as a T1D how does glucagon work inside me, since it doesn’t work at all inside me?  I can’t find these answers yet?  I’m dying to figure this out.  I know how insulin works in a T1D.  I just take it externally.  T1D’s don’t take glucagon externally except in emergencies though, to raise blood sugar quickly.  In a T1D, those Islets of Langerhans are broken, so neither insulin nor glucagon is secreted.  When a T1D’s blood sugar falls, glucagon doesn’t bring us back up like it does in a normal person.  Haven’t you ever seen a diabetic that’s hypoglycemic?  We don’t know our own name or where we are sometimes!  So if our bodies don’t secrete glucagon, how do we burn fat?  I know we as T1D’s need to take external glucose to raise blood sugar.  Does epinepherine work in a T1D for releasing fat to be burned?  If I understand epinepherine (it’s totally possible that I don’t understand anything about all this), it can function similarly to glucagon in the release of fat for energy.  I know that T1D’s can burn fat, because I’ve done it,  but how if glucagon doesn’t work?

If anyone reading this, can explain how a T1D burns fat for energy without a working glucagon system, I would be eternally grateful.  I know I’m trying to understand something  that’s probably a whole course of material, but I’d really like to understand this.  I’m such a health nerd.

Thanks for any help you can offer.

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